Warning from Isabel

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Nickel ores at San Jorge Island. Photo by Axiom Mining Solomon Islands.
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Mines-Mineral Board and Foreign Investment Division in the lens

By EDDIE OSIFELO

LANDOWNERS in Isabel Province are urging the Mines and Mineral Board and Foreign Investment Division to check and refuse to deal with companies that are not developing the mineral industry and cannot bring sustainable development to the local economy.

The concerned landowners expressed this concern after they heard that Solomon Islands Resources Company Limited (SIRCL) is allegedly selling imported mining machinery, and even went to sell the tenements at better price after applying for Mining License before running away.

SIRCL is currently doing prospecting in Suma, Bugotu, for nickel mining.

“If this matter is true, it will affect the interests of the Solomon Islands Government, the Isabel Provincial Government and the landowners.

“We remember there are reports in the newspapers that the person in charge of Sino Capital’s tax debts was running away,” concerned landowners claimed.

He said SIRCL and Sino Capital are both the same Hong Kong investment companies, and SIRCL running may also happen.

“We also think of the previous Bintang company’s disorderly mining of bauxite on Rennell Island without any backfilling and repairing activities, which not only severely damaged the local ecology, but also caused serious oil spill pollution,” concerned Isabelian said.

He said the landowners of Isabel have witnessed the coming and going of mining companies such as Sumitomo Metal Mining, Axiom and now SIRCL in the name of developing the province’s nickel mine.

However, they are doing improper behaviours of transferring their respective Prospecting License or Mining License applications to obtain benefits.

“They do not carry out actual development, nor did they bring actual benefits to the Solomon Islands and provincial government and landowners,” he added.

Earlier it was revealed that SIRCL has constructed wharf, pad and road in Suma without a Mining Lease (ML) to extract nickel.

Minister of Mines and Mineral is mandated to grant ML to a prospecting company on recommendation from the Mines and Mineral Board after the company complies with all the processes.

The processes the company needs to complete in order to receive ML are acquisition, exploration, evaluation, commercial discovery, environment and social impact assessment, land acquisition and feasibility study.

Director of Mines, Nicholas Biliki told journalists recently that it is highly likely the SIRCL can get its ML this year and go on with its construction and extraction.

However, Biliki said from information the company had already built wharf, road and pad for extraction.

SIRCL is owned by New Origin Resources Company Limited and Xiaodong YU.

Logger Garry Cheah is spearheading the operating of SIRCL.

On the other hand, Biliki said Solomon Islands Mining Company Ltd has submitted its Feasibility Study on the mine at Siruka in Choiseul province.

He said the company is still working on its environment impact assessment study.

However, Biliki said the company is expected to start construction and extraction next year.

SIMCL is owned by Filipino logger Johnny Sy, who is also the Director of Bulacan logging Company.

The proposed mines at Suma and Siruka are part of the mining projects the government wanted to fastrack in June 2020 to earn revenues because of the impact caused by covid-19.

Suma has estimated deposits of 10 million tonnes of nickel while Siruka has 90 million tonnes.

The Goldridge Mining on Central Guadalcanal is currently in operation while the government abandoned the bauxite mining on West Rennel by Winning Resources Limited because it did not meet some requirements.


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